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Latest census finds India’s tiger population on the rise – National

NEW DELHI – India’s latest tiger census shows a sharp increase in the number of the endangered cats in the wild, raising hopes that conservation efforts are working, officials said Tuesday.

The census conducted in 2014 found at least 2,226 tigers in forests across the country, up from 1,706 counted in 2010.

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Environment minister Prakash Javadekar described the figure as a huge success story and said it was the result of sustained conservation efforts.

“While the tiger population is falling in the world, it is rising in India. This is great news,” Javadekar told journalists in New Delhi.

Tigers in India have been threatened by rampant poaching and shrinking habitats from deforestation caused by power projects, roads and human settlements as the country pushes ahead with rapid industrialization and economic development.

The disappearance of forests has affected the availability of prey and led tigers to stray into human habitats.

Javadekar said more than 9,700 cameras were used in the massive count and the results are the most accurate in the past few decades.

Tigers have been threatened in India due to poaching and deforestation.

(AP Photo/ Joydip Kundu

“Never before has such an exercise been taken. We have unique photographs of 80 per cent of the tigers” in the wild, he said.

Officials said nearly 380,000 square kilometres of forest area in 18 states were surveyed.

A century ago an estimated 100,000 tigers roamed India’s forests. Their numbers declined steadily till the 1970s, when India banned tiger hunting and embarked on a program to create special reserves and protected areas in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Conservation efforts began to pay off around 2010 when tiger numbers began to rise.

READ MORE: Man killed by tiger after climbing into enclosure at New Delhi zoo

India faces intense international scrutiny over its tiger conservation efforts as it has nearly three-fourths of the world’s estimated 3,200 tigers.

Shrinking habitats have brought the wild cats into conflict with farmers who live near tiger reserves. Also, the illegal trade in tiger skin and body parts remains a stubborn and serious threat. Tiger organs and bones fetch high prices on the black market because of demand driven by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.

©2015The Canadian Press

10 heartwarming images from mass LGBTQ wedding in Toronto

Kisses, hugs and tears abounded after dozens of couples exchanged vows at a mass same-sex wedding ceremony in Toronto Thursday.

Officiants from 12 denominations gave their blessing to the crowd before more than 100 couples at The Grand Prix wedding said “I do” in unison.

READ MORE: LGBTQ couples tie the knot in Toronto mass wedding

The Grand Pride Wedding for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirited couples was thought to be the first of its kind in Canada and involved individuals from around the world.

Organizers said the wedding was the largest of its kind in North America.

It was held at Casa Loma, a palatial Toronto home built between 1911 and 1914, which has since become a popular tourist attraction and event venue.

Dana Murphy (L) and Shannon St Germain dance during the Grand Pride Wedding, a mass gay wedding at Casa Loma in Toronto, Canada, on June 26, 2014.

Getty Images

Michelle, left, and May Brand laugh before joining over 100 gay couples in a mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto, on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

A married couple hold hands after joining over 100 gay couples in a mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto, on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Canada’s first legal same-sex marriage took place on June 10, 2003, just hours after Ontario’s Court of Appeal pronounced the Canadian law on traditional marriage unconstitutional.

READ MORE: Lesbian ‘married throuple’ expecting 1st child

Other provinces followed suit and the federal government legalized same-sex marriage countrywide two years later with the gender-neutral Civil Marriage Act.

Dayna Murphy, left, and her partner Shannon St. Germain have their photo taken by tourists before joining over 100 gay couples in a mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto, on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Steven B. Andrews rests on his husband Michael Dow’s shoulder while joining over 100 other gay couples in a mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto, on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Couples walk hand-in-hand before joining over 100 other gay couples in a mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto, on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Over 100 gay couples participate in a mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto, Ont. on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

A man smiles at his fiance during the Grand Pride Wedding on June 26, 2014.

Getty Images/Geoff Robins

Newly weds celebrate after over 100 gay couples participated in a mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto, on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

– with files from The Canadian Press

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Winnipeg Jets’ Cheveldayoff listening to trade offers at NHL draft

PHILADELPHIA – Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will continue fielding plenty of trade calls on NHL draft weekend.

“We’re going to listen to everybody,” Cheveldayoff said. “If there’s a guy that a team has an interest in, then my phone is open for a phone call.”

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Cheveldayoff’s colleagues shouldn’t bother asking about defencemen Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey and centre Mark Scheifele, but other than that the Jets seem open for business. Rumours have swirled around left-winger Evander Kane and defenceman/forward Dustin Byfuglien, who could be prime targets as other teams seek to take advantage of the Jets’ desire to make changes.

Kane could be on his way out of Winnipeg this weekend or before the season starts. But if he is, Cheveldayoff isn’t showing his hand.

“I’m really not going to get into those kinds of discussions,” Cheveldayoff said Thursday in his pre-draft news conference. “I think it’s unfair to the individual players. There’s enough out there at different points in time that some of it is probably true and some is probably false. At the end of the day, it is a business where you do discuss making moves that will help each other’s franchises but these are people that are involved, as well.”

The Jets haven’t made the playoffs in three seasons since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta. The Thrashers missed the playoffs in the four previous years.

So understandably there’s some impatience among fans, even in a difficult Western Conference. Cheveldayoff, on the other hand, is a paragon of patience, and that extends to this time of year.

“You can’t will yourself to make the playoffs,” he said. “You have to continue to build and get the pieces that will try to push you forward. That’s why so much attention is paid to the draft and the process and certainly in our organization.”

The Jets pick ninth in Friday night’s first round, the same spot they got Trouba in 2012. Scouts disagree about how many difference-makers are available in this draft, ranging from eight to 12.

There is a consensus about the top five players available: defenceman Aaron Ekblad, centres Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, forward Leon Draisaitl and winger Michael Dal Colle. To get one, the Jets would have to move up.

“You make the calls, you try and see if there is opportunities,” Cheveldayoff said. “I guess there has to be an appetite in the different people to want to move because there are some good players there. Teams aren’t just going to say, ‘Yeah, you know what, let’s make a move.’ It has to make sense for both sides.”

In three drafts at the helm, Cheveldayoff has yet to move up or down in the first round. He has also not made a player-for-player trade at any point as Winnipeg’s GM.

So history is stacked against the Jets trading Kane or Byfuglien, even if the current reality makes it possible. Late in the regular season after being a healthy scratch, Kane refused to answer a question about whether he had or would ask for a trade.

Cheveldayoff danced around the subject Thursday when asked if Kane had requested to be dealt.

“These kinds of questions are really unfair,” he said. “There are lots of conversations that go on. I’m sure there were levels of frustration at different points in time for individual players. From our standpoint, Evander is a Winnipeg Jet and I know that there’s obviously been lots of different rumours out there. At this point in time, that’s how we’re going to proceed. As far as any demands, we’re working as normal here.”

Normal to the Jets means continuing to stockpile talent at the draft. Only problem is, after No. 9, they don’t have a pick until the third round, 69th overall, after sending a second away for winger Devin Setoguchi last summer.

It’s unlikely Winnipeg will be able to get immediate help with even its first-round pick. But Cheveldayoff could stay true to his long-term plan by making picks and moves this weekend.

“You’re trying to gain depth in an organization, so that if you have other assets that other people covet, then you can maybe make those kind of moves,” he said. “But until you have the assets that allow you to be competitive in the short term and maybe make long-term moves, you have to keep building.”

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©2014The Canadian Press